Grizzlies Grades: Memphis Grizzlies at Phoenix Suns

Christian Petersen

Grizzlies 97 - Suns 91

STARTERS

Zach Randolph : (A) 39 MIN | 32 PTS | 15-25 FG | 9 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 TO | +2

My Grizzlies MVP of the season is no other than Zach Randolph. The pressure of a massive contract and constant trade rumours could have crushed many veterans in the twilight of their career, but Zbo took everything in stride and ended up with a lower usage rate version of his prime seasons, plus he has developed a better all-round game due to his improved passing. It was way too easy to overlook Zbo's contributions since we all got to see Gasol and Conley miss time this season, but think about (A) What would the Grizzlies look like had Zach missed games and (B) Whenever the press talk about the Grizzlies, Randolph's name ALWAYS rolls off their tongue first. The true heart and soul of the team who just soaks up pressure like a giant sponge.

Tayshaun Prince : (B-) 28 MIN | 4 PTS | 1-4 FG | 8 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 TO | +5

Had a sneaky good game overall as he was able to quieten every Suns player that he defended, whether it was Tucker, Green or Dragic, no one dared to challenge Prince's defensive prowess. Tayshaun was also able to help the Grizzlies dominate the rebounding battle and generally took decent shots within the offense.

Marc Gasol : (B+) 37 MIN | 18 PTS | 7-13 FG | 8 REB | 3 AST | 3 TO | +6

Aside from a couple of unassertive possessions with the ball in hand, Big Marc provided tons of intangibles with his excellent court positioning on both ends of the floor. Gasol once again worked in tandem with Randolph to easily win the battle of the front court with his typical "Point-Center" contributions.

Mike Conley : (A-) 38 MIN | 14 PTS | 6-11 FG | 3 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | +2

A timid first three quarters where Conley was focused on facilitating for his big men and staying in front of Bledsoe on defense gave Conley the freedom for his heroics during crunch time, as the Suns were completely engulfed in attempting to stop the Grizzlies front court. Conley's two huge jumpers at closing time helped seal the Grizzlies' fourth straight postseason birth.

Courtney Lee : (D-) 17 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-4 FG | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 BLK | 3 TO | -8

The pressure of having to guard Dragic showed through big time Lee was unable to get into the flow of the game, clanking his shots and was extremely careless with the ball. The gravity of the game was something that Lee hadn't experienced for several years and it showed through. Coach Joerger identified the situation and wisely took Lee out after he was unable to snap out of his funk early in the second half.

BENCH

Tony Allen : (A-) 21 MIN | 8 PTS | 3-5 FG | 6 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 3 TO | +5

TA's energy throughout the game gave the Grizzles a huge boost as he is now finally back on track with his finishing around the rim. The Grindfather's typical all-world defense and aggressive rebounding provided the Grizzlies fans plenty of treats, sprinkled with some careless passing but overall his typical value during this big game shown through in a massive way.

Nick Calathes : (C+) 10 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-1 FG | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 2 TO | +4

Nick's typical all-out hustle during limited minutes is what Grizzlies fans have grown accustomed to seeing, diving on the floor for loose balls and scrapping every ounce of talent he has is commendable. Unfortunately Calathes had a lot trouble checking the Suns guards and struggled with the Suns' active hands on the defensive end.

Mike Miller : (A) 30 MIN | 21 PTS | 8-11 FG | 5-6 3P | 1 REB | 1 AST | 3 TO | +12

Miller was bought to the Grizzlies for two things - His lights-out shooting and his championship mettle. Last night's game had these two boxes ticked in a massive way as Miller took over a struggling Lee and turned it into one of the signature game of his career. At age 34 and already with championship rings, his continued dedication and desire to succeed has given the Grizzlies an X-factor going into the Playoffs that they were sorely missing last year.

Kosta Koufos : (C-) 10 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-2 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST | -1

His reduced playing time has definitely affected Kosta's confidence has his shot attempts lately have ended up going away from the basket rather than putting it up strong towards the basket. He will still be a valuable member of the front court in the Playoffs though, as Kosta seems to be the only reliable big man coming off the bench that can bring consistent energy and effort to the table.

Ed Davis : (D+) 9 MIN | 0 PTS | 0-1 FG | 1 REB | +3

A good track record against the Suns gave Davis an opportunity to impress once again, however Davis was completely lost trying to guard stretch power forwards as he did not have the quickness nor the agility to stay with Morris. In the end a disappointing outing that has plagued his value on-and-off throughout the season.

OPPONENT

Phoenix Suns : (B)

The Suns will take solace of the fact that they have wildly exceeded expectations, as the press identified the Suns as a team that were simply going to be "Riggin' for Wiggins" heading into the season. 81 games later, the Suns proved that they have the pieces to compete not only right now but also in the immediate future as the West just keeps getting more and more stacked. In the end, the Suns will rue over their last three games, all closely contested, with each defeat more devastating than the last. However, putting things into perspective, a great season for the Suns that could change the dynamics of the Playoffs system in the near future, something that might not have been possible without the contribution of the Suns' pleasantly surprising season.

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